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Do you know how to beat debt collectors UK? Or how to beat debt collectors in general? Many people worry about this question every day. This guide will help you understand better. Let me explain the process…

Warren Marshall
Last updated on 11 July 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. Who is a Debt Collector?
2. How to Beat Debt Collectors UK?
3. How Do I Talk To My Creditor?
4. Beating Debt Collectors with an IVA – the most powerful tool
5. Addressing the Issue of Harassment
6. Is It Worthwhile to Look into Other Debt Collection Agencies?
7. Is It Actually Possible to Outsmart Debt Collectors?
8. How Do I Deal With A Debt Collector?
9. What Debts Do I Deal With First?
10. FAQ


Are you aware of the number of individuals constantly seeking advice on handling debt collectors in the UK?

Well, the truth is, you can’t just ‘beat’ them by not paying a debt you actually owe. But guess what? There are smart ways you can handle their claims. There’s something you can do about if they’re pressuring you unfairly.

Intrigued? Let me tell you more in the next bit.

And then there’s the Ombudsman. You can actually make complaints to them. How do you do that? Hang on, I’ll get to that.

Ever heard of IVAs? Well, your secret weapon when you’re trying to outsmart debt collectors. More on that later.

Who is a Debt Collector?

The term ‘debt collector’? It’s kinda confusing because it means two different things. Let me break it down for you.

First, there are these groups called debt collection agencies. They either buy debt from others or try to collect it from different companies. They will write you letters to request payment or propose a repayment plan for you. They might bring the matter to court to recover the money if you disregard them.

Now, here’s the twist.

‘Debt collector’ can also mean High Court Enforcement Officers or bailiffs. These guys mean business. The court gives them the power to take some of your stuff to pay off your debt. But don’t panic; they can’t take just anything. There are limits to what they can take because you have rights you need to understand.

How to Beat Debt Collectors UK?

Let’s get real for a second. It’s tough if you’re dealing with a bailiff. If the debt has already been taken to the High Court, you’re kinda stuck. But if not, then how to beat debt collectors uk?

So, when I say ‘beating debt collectors in the UK,’ I’m talking about dealing with those debt collection agencies, the ones at the start of the whole debt collection thing.

So let’s focus on that. How can you respond to their threats and claims?

  • Acknowledge Your Debt and Educate Yourself About Debt Collectors

The first thing you gotta do when you see a debt collection letter? Get clued up about it.

First up, check if the debt collection company is legit and if the debt is actually yours. You can do this by calling your creditor and looking at your credit report to verify data.

And guess what? You should also look for guides specific to the company that sent you the letter. Say, for instance, you got a letter from Lowell Financial Debt Collectors. In these guides, you’ll get all the info you need, like their contact details, how they collect debts, ways to complain, and strategies to handle them.

This isn’t just about protecting yourself but overcoming your debt.

  • Is Your Debt Statute-Barred?

So, you’ve checked, and the company is real, and the debt is definitely yours. But did you know you could tell debt collectors to go away? It’s a thing called a ‘statute-barred’ debt.

Here’s the lowdown,

1. If your debt is at least six years old. 
2. If you did not make any payments in the last six years.
3. If you haven’t agreed that you have the debt in the last six years

It might be legally off the table. It is really how to beat debt collectors UK. 

Also, there can’t be any CCJ (that’s a County Court Judgement) for the debt already.

You could write a letter to the debt collection agency telling them your debt is ‘statute-barred’ only if all these things are true.

  • Request Proof of The Debt Collector’s Documentation

Let’s say you get this debt letter from a collection agency. First, you must confirm that the money they say you owe is your debt. You can do this by writing back and asking them. This means they gotta show you signed agreements that you missed payments and got into debt.

And if they can’t back this up with proof? They can never force you to pay the debt. If they keep nagging you for payments but don’t show the evidence, you gotta keep all their messages and make a formal complaint.

Ask them for a full breakdown of the debt. This is to double-check that the debt is real. You might even discover they’ve added some fees or charges you don’t have to pay.

How Do I Talk To My Creditor?

One of the best ways to dodge those debt collectors? Just talk to the people you owe money to – your creditors. Letting them know about your money situation and your plans to pay back what you owe could stop them from giving your debt to a debt collection company.

Now, when I say ‘talk’, I mean write. Emails or letters. They’re simpler to follow.

But hold on a second. If you’re thinking a debt might become ‘statute-barred’ soon – meaning too old to be collected – don’t reach out just yet! If you do that, the time might start again, and you’d need to wait another six years before they can’t enforce the debt.

You can discuss and check with your creditors about how much you owe and to whom you owe. Once you admit these debts, you might find that your creditors are more understanding and might give you a break from chasing payments for a bit. They could even stop adding interest.

Think about negotiating a repayment plan if you can repay some of the debt. Just make sure the repayment plan is something you can afford. And get it in writing before you start making payments. That way, they can’t argue about it later!

Creditors don’t have to agree to any of this; remember that. They’re allowed to ask for you to pay back all your debt as you originally agreed. But often, they’ll work with you because they might not get as much back if you go for a formal debt solution like an IVA.

Beating Debt Collectors with an IVA – the most powerful tool

There’s this thing called an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, or IVA for short. Trust me; it’s like your secret weapon when you’re trying to outsmart debt collectors in the UK. You may wonder, ‘How can an IVA actually assist me?’ Let’s explore how this debt management method works and why it’s so impactful.

  • What is an IVA?

Imagine this: you’ve got different debts piling up from different places. That’s where an IVA comes in handy. 

You pay a certain amount every month, and that cash gets split among everyone you owe. Here’s the kicker – after doing this for a set period of time, usually five years, any debt you’ve got left? Gone. Wiped clean. Sounds pretty good, right?

  • Setting up an IVA

To get an IVA up and running, you’ll need a hand from someone called an insolvency practitioner. 

They’re pros who’ll guide you through the whole thing. They’ll check out your financial situation, whip up a proposal for the folks you owe, and take care of all the IVA paperwork.

  • The Benefits of an IVA

So, an IVA isn’t just about merging your debts together. An IVA can actually help stop those pesky debt collectors from bothering you. Once you have an IVA, they can’t bug you anymore without asking the court first. 

No more endless calls or threats about taking you to court. 

And there’s more. An IVA could potentially cancel a good chunk of your debt once the agreed period is over, usually after five years. Picture this; you can finally see the light at the end of the debt tunnel, leading you to a brand new start in your financial life.

There’s this thing called a Debt Relief Order or DRO. It’s perfect if you can’t afford an IVA.

To qualify, you have to show you have less than £75 leftover each month after your basic living costs and that your belongings, not counting a car, aren’t worth more than £2,000. Your car also needs to be valued under £2,000.

The awesome part? Once your DRO gets the green light, those folks you owe can’t bug you. That’s right – they can’t send debt collectors after you.

And the best part? For a year, you don’t have to pay a penny on your DRO-approved debts. After the year, if you’re still financially tight, you’re off the hook for those debts.

There’s a catch though. Some debts, like court fines or child maintenance, don’t get covered by a DRO. Your DRO advisor will help you figure out what’s what. You’ll need a plan for paying those off during your DRO.

Remember, there are multiple ways to handle debt collectors. The proper way is to chat with an expert who has experience and can guide you.

Addressing the Issue of Harassment

Some debt collection agencies have a sneaky habit. They’ll try to rattle you by calling multiple times a day. That’s a no-no according to the Financial Conduct Authority. Doing this could cost the debt collectors a pretty penny in penalties.

So, how can you stop them? Simple. Ask them to only ring you at certain times of the day. If they don’t play ball and respect your reasonable request, it’s complaint time.

Start by filing a complaint directly with the debt collection company. You have more options if they don’t handle your issue as they should.

You can take it to the top and bring it to the Financial Conduct Authority. There’s one more place you can turn if they don’t get it sorted. It is the Financial Ombudsman Service or FOS.

The best part? If your complaint gets traction, the debt collectors might be forced to cough up a fine and even pay you some compensation.

Is It Worthwhile to Look into Other Debt Collection Agencies?

Personal debt in the UK just keeps going up. The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts that UK household debt will increase. It could go from £2.006 billion in 2020 to a massive £2.354 billion in 2025. Crazy, right?

It’s no surprise that lots of folks in the UK owe money in more than one place, With all that debt flying around. Maybe you’re one of them.

It’s time to get things under control if you think you might have other debts out there. And you know what? The first step is pretty simple. Just grab your bank statements, emails, and any mail you’ve got from debt collectors.

Is It Actually Possible to Outsmart Debt Collectors?

Let’s get one thing straight if you owe money and must pay it back. There’s no way around it. You might pay it all at once or use a debt solution to spread out payments.

You’re already winning by knowing what they can and can’t do. You’re stopping them from crossing the line. Just remember that.

How Do I Deal With A Debt Collector?

Here’s the thing – you can’t ignore debt collectors. That’s your worst possible move. It’s like poking a bear – it will only make things worse.

They might ask you to pay right away. And you’re thinking, “Do I even owe this money?” So, check it first. Don’t pay anything until you’re sure you owe it.

If you can pay, that’s great! If not, don’t sweat it. Many debt collectors will agree to a repayment plan. Just a reminder, make sure to follow it closely if you commit to a plan. Don’t miss a payment, alright?

Most debt collectors won’t knock on your door. If they do, give them a call yourself to set up a standing order or something. This way, you’ll have all the records of your payments.

What Debts Do I Deal With First?

First, let’s tackle your ‘priority debts’.

Here they are:

  • Rent or mortgage arrears
  • Council tax arrears
  • Energy bill arrears
  • Court fines
  • TV license payments
  • Overpaid tax credits
  • Unpaid child maintenance

Handle these first.

Done with that? Great! Now, let’s move on to the ‘non-priority’ debts. These are the unsecured debts that are a pain but won’t cut off your services or land you in jail if you don’t pay immediately. Check these out:

  • Credit card or store card debts
  • Unpaid parking tickets
  • Payday loans (those unsecured ones)
  • Unpaid water bills (remember, they can’t cut your water off)
  • Debts owed to your family or friends

These creditors can drag you to court, but don’t let that intimidate you.


How Long Can a Debt Collector Pursue Debt in the UK?

A debt collector can ask for payment for up to 6 years after you made your last payment. Or written acknowledgement of the debt for most types of debts in the UK. This time limit is also known as the limitation period. However, it’s important to note that the limitation period can be longer for mortgage debts.

Can Debt Collectors Harass Me to Repay My Debts?

Absolutely not. Debt collectors must follow the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority. These rules prohibit harassment, aggressive tactics, or on-the-spot demands for payment. You have the right to report them to the FCA if you believe a debt collector is breaking these rules.

What Documentation Should Debt Collectors Provide?

Debt collectors are required to provide certain documents as proof of their right to collect a debt. One essential document is the notice of assignment, which shows that the original creditor has transferred the rights to collect the debt. They may not legally have the right to collect the debt if a debt collector cannot produce this document.

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